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Reality Check - Magazines are Disposable Items

Mags = Disposable Feature

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy wanted to discuss the fact that magazines are ultimately disposable items. Our goal with this blog post is to discuss why magazines are ultimately disposable and consumable items while also delving into some of their wear factors and other relevant considerations. Without further ado, let’s get into it.


What is a Magazine?

The term magazine in this context refers to detachable box magazines which are commonly used with pistols and rifles. These magazines can range widely in terms of capacity, holding anywhere from 10 rounds to over 100 rounds in some cases. Magazines are most commonly found in either single stack or double stack form. Single stack magazines are less common these days as double stack magazines dominate the market in both pistol and rifle form. Exceptions exist in the form of drum magazines and rotary style magazines like those utilized by the Ruger 10/22 series of firearms.

While this blog post is primarily focused on the detachable magazines used by many modern firearms, many of this information will still apply to internal magazines. These internal magazines can be found in the form of shotgun tubes, lever action rifle tubes, and internal magazines on bolt action rifles. The components of these magazines will also be subjected to wear and stress as they are used.


Disposable is a Strong Word

The word “disposable” has strong connotations. In their original military context, detachable box magazines were designed to be ammunition reservoirs which could be swapped as needed. Obviously, in a military context, this process will need to be fast and expedient. This way of thinking is reflective of the way that stripper clips, or chargers, were intended to be utilized before the proliferation of detachable box magazines.

Nowadays in the context of shooting, magazines are considered consumable items. This is to say that while they may be important components of a firearm’s method of operation, they are not truly integral to the function of a firearm. A semi-automatic firearm will ultimately function without a magazine. Detachable box magazines can easily be swapped and replaced with fresh magazines, both in terms of ammunition capacity and overall condition. Simply put, magazines will wear over time and like all things, degrade in function as wear and stress on their components continues. These ultimately non-essential components are thus considered consumable as they will eventually need to be replaced or refurbished when the time comes.

Magazines can sometimes demand a high cost; this is particularly evident when it comes to unique designs and proprietary magazines. While the reality of magazines being consumable wear items may be harsh, it is in fact reality. Anything subjected to prolonged use will wear and potentially stop functioning. Modern magazines are certainly of high-quality and take advantage of modern manufacturing techniques, making them more durable and reliable than older types of magazines. That being said, these units will still need to be serviced or replaced eventually due to the nature of their operation.

Ultimately, one should recognize the fact that these pieces of equipment do unfortunately degrade as they are used and be prepared to refurbish or replace them as necessary.

USGI Type Magazine
USGI Type Magazine
Glock Magazine
Glock Magazine

How Do Magazines Degrade?

Magazines degrade in a variety of places and ways. The level of wear is dependent upon a variety of factors and tied to how often a magazine is utilized. Simply put, a magazine that gets used often will experience more wear than a magazine that is rarely used.

Shooters today will find that magazines will generally come in either polymer or metal form. Polymer offerings are constructed from reinforced synthetic materials while metal magazines come in either steel or aluminum form. These different materials can lead to different forms of wear and degradation. For example, polymer magazines will feature significantly less metal than their metal magazine counterparts. This makes them less susceptible to rust than the metal type magazines. While aluminum bodied magazines are not particularly susceptible to rust, their steel bodied counterparts certainly are.

Magazine springs will ultimately degrade as they are used, eventually becoming weaker over time. These springs are essentially having to contend with gravity each time they load rounds upward into the action of the firearm. The constant cycle of compression and decompression that a magazine spring is subjected to will ultimately cause wear and stress. Weak magazine springs paired with followers which are not of the anti-tilt type have the potential to tilt and wobble within the body of the magazine. This can lead to issues loading and feeding the magazine.

Damage can also occur to the feed lips on a magazine, hindering the unit’s ability to reliably feed. If the feed lips on a magazine are compromised, the unit can also have issues retaining its load depending on the severity of the damage. Feed lips work in conjunction with the follower and spring to retain cartridges within the magazine. A bent or broken feed lip means that rounds can potentially come free of the magazine or otherwise fall out.


When Should You Replace or Refurbish a Magazine?

There are many signs one will see if the time comes to replace or refurbish a magazine. Practically speaking, one can easily diagnose and be made aware of magazine issues when attempting to use it at the range. If a magazine fails to reliably feed your firearm, it may require a new spring, follower, have damage/excessive wear on the feed lips, or be worn where out where the magazine catch indexes with the magazine body. These are some of the most common issues one will have with a magazine that is in need of service or replacement.

If considerable damage has occurred to the body or feed lips of a magazine, one should strongly consider replacing the unit. In some cases, metal feed lips may get bent out of shape and can potentially be put back into working order by an end user. Depending on the magazine, it may be as easy as taking out some pliers and doing a bit of bending. In other cases, repair may not be possible. Plastic and polymer feed lips tend to be more brittle than their metal counterparts, which means they can potentially be broken off of the magazine. Metal magazine bodies can become deformed or crushed, potentially compromising the structure of the magazine and its potential to feed. Polymer magazines can potentially crack if subjected to extreme abuse. In most of these cases, it makes sense to simply replace the magazine.

Ultimately, one will know if their magazine is in need of replacement if they simply attempt to use it at the range. Upon witnessing an issue or failure, the user can diagnose the issue and make efforts to replace the unit or service the magazine if possible.


Servicing Magazines

An end user can easily attempt to service problematic magazines to restore their function. If one notices that their magazines feature wobbly and tilting followers, one can purchase new anti-tilt followers from companies such as Magpul. Weak springs can be replaced with fresh springs from a variety of companies as well, allowing one to replace a key internal component if the need arises.

Sometimes the best way to service a faulty or old magazine is to replace it entirely. Rather than chasing problems with dollars and attempting to make a well-worn unit work, one can simply buy a fresh magazine instead. This effectively replaces an old unit with a brand new one that has not been subjected to wear or use yet.

Excessive fouling and carbon on magazines is also something which is worth servicing. Obviously, a gun will get dirtier and more fouled as it is fired. This fouling extends to magazines as well. The effect of this fouling is generally amplified considerably when a suppressor is utilized. If a magazine becomes caked in carbon and fouled up, one may experience issues with function or indexing into the firearm. Certain magazines may take longer to exhibit issues than others. Simply put, if one wishes to ensure a magazine is in top condition, they should make an effort to keep them at least somewhat clean.

B&T Magazine
B&T Magazine
Canik Magazine
Canik Magazine

Durability and Longevity of Modern Magazines

Modern production magazines tend to be considerably more durable than their older counterparts and built with longevity in mind. Things such as reinforced and recontoured feed lips, on both polymer and metal magazines, promote and facilitate reliable feeding and a long service life. Weak and malleable feed lips will kill an otherwise good magazine, thankfully this is less of an issue on modern magazines. New production magazines feature reinforced springs which are optimized for the purpose of reliably feeding magazines. Many new production magazines can be left loaded with little to no consequence. Modern offerings will also tend to be on the rugged and hardy side, making units able to survive drops and rough insertions.

Modern production magazines are produced by a number of high-quality manufacturers. Many pistol manufacturers either produce their own factory magazines or utilize a company like Mec-Gar to produce them on their behalf. AR-15/STANAG type magazines are produced by a wide variety of companies from Duramag to Magpul. Companies such as Magpul, ETS, and KCI are also known for producing magazines for a variety of firearms. Supported platforms encompass ARs, AKs, and even subguns like MP5s and Brugger & Thomet offerings to name a few.



All in all, one should try and keep their supply of magazines in top working order. This can easily be done by either purchasing new units or refurbishing or servicing existing units as needed. By making an effort to keep one’s magazines in the best condition possible, one can ensure that they will not be an issue for future outings. In addition to the wide variety of ammunition we carry, we here at True Shot Ammo also carry multiple types of magazines. Whether you are looking for a magazine or something to fill them with, we have got you covered. As always, happy shooting.


Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.


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One Response

  1. Good article on magazines…..something that I never thought about much except how many I may need for each firearm I own.

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